Fare Thee Well, August

After finding some more popular blogs on the internet prior to June, I also ran across one or two that caught my attention that were written by people just like me. I found myself blogging by the beginning of June. It distracted me from the everyday happenings that I didn’t want to think about and deal with as I should have. It was my escape.

Come the end of July, having been a blogger for a little over a month, I had found so many writers who write interesting material and I felt as though I had become one of them. The world was at my fingertips, quite literally. Many of the bloggers I read were setting goals for themselves, or simply running on a random schedule due to a load of life being delivered on a constant basis. I still wanted to join in the writing fun.

I decided by the first of August that I would also set a list of achievable goals and get busy writing. I found several interesting topics and did some research, took necessary notes, and only got a little actual writing done. I feel horrible for not having completed the list of simple goals that I created for myself.

Unfortunately, life got in the way of my writing and I was unable to concentrate on thoughts and topics long enough to write anything of use. Though I feel that I have offered better quality posts during the month, I feel bad for having been pulled away so many times by so many distracting matters.

September is just around the corner, and my fingers are still able to push the keys on the keyboard in front of me. Just the same, they’re able to pick up a pencil or a pen and jot down notes and thoughts. Since I have a list of goals already in place, I will be working toward the goals that I have not yet achieved, while making each entry that I post of the best quality that I’m able to muster at that time.

There are four entries about writing that I have not finished along with three entries that are not personally inclined nor benefited from. I will also do my best to include on-topic images that follow the theme of the entry, so long as I’m able to find something suitable.

I have learned this past month that I am an overly-analytical, optimistic pessimist. Yes, I understand how confusing that must sound. It was recently pointed out to me that I have a tendency to constantly expect the worst of any given situation, even those that I feel I’m able to control, no matter what ground I have to base my ideas upon. My life has surely not been an easy one. The direction has shifted so many times at the hands of others that I am unsatisfied with how everything has turned out and come to be. I feel at times that there is very little reason that I should be optimistic about my life. It seems no matter how hard I try to make things work, some stray wire causes the whole package to blow. I guess I’ll work on that, too.

There are many other things that usually demand my attention when I sit down to write. Many of them should be considered just as important, or more important, than my writing, I feel. I should not simply put them off without thinking about how much those things matter to me. I realize this on a recurring basis.

During the month of September, I plan on making a few changes to become less pessimistic, more optimistic, and more opportunistic, in an ethical manner.

A third of the way through the month, I received an e-mail with the subject line: ‘saw this and thought of you’. It was an inspirational e-mail with just a single image inside. The image reads: “The greater the artist, the greater the doubt. Perfect confidence is granted to the less talented as a consolation prize.” …a quote from Robert Hughes. This e-mail may not seem much to some, but being the first of its kind that I have received, I wanted to be sure to include this with a ‘Thank you’ to the fellow writer for the inspiration.

I would also like to thank all of you who stop by to read what I have to say. Thank you for taking the time to stop by, view what I’ve written, ‘Like’, and share your thoughts in a comment. Even if you’re one of the silent readers who are unable to like an entry or make a comment, thank you for visiting.

Here’s to September. May it bring many well-written words and meaningful, memorable moments.

Make It Come Out Write

Ruffled Plain

Subject. Topic. Possibilities. Blank document; paper or otherwise. Do it. Don’t do it. Use that word. Use these, instead. Word it differently. No. Reword it. Now, reword it again. Cancel that. Rewrite it. Erase that. No, don’t erase that! It might come in handy later. Erase that, though. Put that idea here. Put that thought there. Move this. Replace these. Insert here and erase… no, don’t erase; just take it out and put it away.

Writers constantly struggle to get their thoughts onto paper, or into an electronic document that will give them the ease required to look past their mind and into what they’ve thought about. This idea and that thought may both seem like good ideas. Excellent ideas they are, maybe.

Once the words have been written and put down on paper or into the document on the monitor in front of them, these ideas and thoughts seem to clash. Maybe they no longer make the perfect sense they once did. Perhaps, the wrong words were used and others should have been used to give the idea or thought more meaning.

The ideas that come to mind seem wonderful to the writer who is about to write them. They would likely seem wonderful to the reader who would enjoy the time spent to read them, if the writer would ever get around to finish writing them.

Writing takes time. Writing well, sometimes takes even more time. No, good writing does not consist of the overly used editing skills that some writers boast about having; that’s good editing. Good writing comes from some place deeper than a pencil or a keyboard, and it is much more than a single edit will help.

Writing well is more about writing from the heart rather than scribbling notes for a grocery list. Good writing is more than words; it’s feeling, too. In order to write something that is well written, words to describe the object must be used. — Bland. Overrated. Too cliché. — To write well, a heart must be present in order to give the words more meaning than a dictionary can provide.

Description comes in handy. Description is also known to hinder a piece of writing more than it helps in many cases. Description is of no use when the idea will not reveal itself long enough to be written; when the thought creeps back into its dark corner.

Perhaps it’s only the imagination of the writer that makes the writing seem less than worthy. Perhaps, the writing actually is less than worthy and should be crumpled into a ball and thrown into a useful waste basket. Or, perhaps, the world would love to read what has been written, if only it were able to be written.

Words and sentences often express thought. Ideas are expressed this way, too, of course. What happens when the words won’t come to create sentences? — A jumbled mess of thought mixed with confusion and irritation; that’s what.

Writing benefits from emotion. It benefits from idea, thought, consideration, and meaningful words that allow a writer to effectively convey an idea to another, through the use of words. Writing does not, however, benefit from loose hairs resulting from an irritated writer pulling them out. Nor does it benefit from the angst that is likely to arrive upon the third revision of the same piece.

Writing well lies within the writer. To force the words will usually result in what feels as failure, because the piece is not written as well as it could be, as well as it should be, written. All is not lost. After all, that’s why the process of editing was created; right?

Many writers find themselves editing more than they write. Other writers find themselves writing and editing here and there, as it’s needed. The whole point, whether it is in a completely raw form that will ultimately need a few hours of editing or it’s in perfect condition as it’s being written, is to make it come out; write.

If At First You Don’t Succeed…

The Little Engine That Could - Become the Little Engine That Did

  • 1. …Try, Try Again.
  • Of course, it’s much easier than it sounds. Anger and fear usually set in as a result of frustration. Anger as a result of the task being thought of as a simple one, and failure was the reward for trying the first time. Fear of not being able to accomplish such a task also makes it that much more difficult.
  • When a combination of the two is experienced, those emotions spark up a slew of others; all of which only blur the mind to make the task seem even more impossible.
  • 2. …Give up and let the dust settle.
  • It’s tempting at times, but to give up means to admit defeat. It may not be possible to win every war in life, but it certainly does not hurt to try. The dust that settles will only cover the initial attempt in part. The memory will remain and history will eventually rear its ugly head to bring about the task once more anew.
  • When the chance is offered, be sure to have the proper tools and skill so that victory will result.
  • 3. …Pay someone else to do it.
  • There are surely hundreds of professionals, if not thousands, who would be more than willing to take your project and make it appear the easiest task in the world. Of course, in order to hire anyone else, payment would be expected at some point during the project, and along with it, victory would belong to another.

If at first you don’t succeed and you would like to try again, release the negative emotion that has built up to begin with a clear mind. Remember that failure is a reward in itself, because it shows you that it’s time to sharpen your tools and increase your skill; to ultimately make you a better person.

Yes, someone else may be able to do the project that you have setup better and likely even quicker, but as the proverb reminds us: If you want something done right the first time, you had better do it yourself. Along with knowing that the project was completed to your approval, you’ll also enjoy the satisfaction of having completed your goal.

Image Source: Cliff; used under the Creative Commons Licensing.

Peeking at Social Media

Social media in this day and age is everything. Everyone in the world wants their spot to be very well known; whether it’s at the top of the list, or hidden away in some random, secluded corner. The social media companies have done well for themselves, evolving the way that people think and respond to actions. Have they, really?

Social in itself means relating to human society and its members, so that’s settled. Media: a means or instrumentality for storing or communicating information. That makes sense. — I suppose the social media companies have it all figured out, then.

When it comes to being social on many of the socially available sites, it’s more difficult than you might think, though; for some of us, anyway. Anti-socialism plays a large role in why I dislike social media, but the characteristics and qualities that these companies so eagerly demonstrate, I find distasteful in many ways.

When MySpace first appeared, everyone wanted to make a page to share their thoughts and opinions with others. Personal information quickly appeared and along with it, court dates and law suits. — Hmm. Oh well. — On a more interesting note: The space does not actually belong to one person; it belongs solely to the company in which offers the service. On a similar note: The implied space usually ends up being clogged by so many people, it’s difficult to tell at times which MY it belongs to.

Ahh, yes, then there is the ever-so-trusty Facebook to save the day. Facebook. Facebook. Face. Book. — A combination of two things that obviously do not work well with one another without some form of pain being experienced, I would imagine. — Whatever the case, it likely would have been easier just to call it a yearbook; since yearbooks are known to include pictures of faces.

Even so, Facebook shows quite a bit more than face. It’s quite hilarious how many people have taken Facebook to a new level of body book and journal of stupidity. Then, that’s just my opinion. It strikes me funny to see people who share such personal information, going as far to say that they committed an illegal act, and then had the nerve to post such information for the whole world to see. — Brilliant idea!

Oh, I cannot — though I would like to — forget about Twitter. I’ve been asked many times why I have not created an account to advertise my writing, share my work with others, and find new friends by means of the social networking that it, and other services, offer. I’m not sure what the creators were thinking when they named the service, but I have to hand it to them for naming it rather well, indeed.

Twit (noun): 1. Someone who is regarded as contemptible. 2. Aggravation by deriding or mocking or criticizing.

Twit (verb): 1. Harass with persistent criticism or carping.

You see, Twitter is filled with a rather wide range of aggravation, criticism, harassment, irritation, and mockery; so they named it rather well. Of course, I do not consider myself a twit, therefore I do not Twitter.

Social media and social networking has definitely opened my eyes to many things. It has shown me many types of people that I purposely stay away from; those who should really take the time needed in order to do some growing up; and, for whatever other reasons, why I have not created an account to join the masses.

Also, I find it quite curious that they would refer to these services as being ‘social’, since many of the users do not actually become social on the site. To be social on the site, usually requires knowing the individual in person. Otherwise, it’s likely that you’ll learn through silence that their settings block anyone who wishes to become social; they do not wish to share enthusiasm for a shared interest; nor do they wish to become friends with people whom they’ve never met. — So much for being social, eh?

Yes, I also realize that such services have done some good in the world, but I feel that they could be doing more, even still. Of course, this is just my opinion. I hope you found a hidden laugh or two while reading over this entry.

How Times Have Changed

A reflective look to the past will show many things. Emotions and ideas that were ventured and lost or won, along with thoughts that came to fruition or simply remained as thought. The only true constant that will stand the test of time is change itself. Change is everywhere; not just lying on the sidewalk or in one’s pocket.

If you take a look at a few phrases you’ll surely notice the changes that have been made along the way. Such a phrase, for example: Go play. Though this phrase is short and quite simple, when someone was told to go play twenty years ago, the person usually had to step outside in order to do so. The phrase did not mean to sit down with some hand-held electronic device and begin screaming absurdities due to a complex level, or at persons who are likely hundreds of miles away.

Another such phrase: Get stoned. If you look around the world that we live in today, you will notice advertisements everywhere that suggest everyone should smoke it up and live the high life; even if the high life isn’t necessarily the best option. Years ago, the phrase had more of a punishment type of meaning. To ‘get stoned’ actually meant that someone, or many people, stood along a brick wall while many other people threw stones at them. This type of punishment usually lasted until the death of the guilty parties.

Many years ago, it was quite the norm to walk about and call your neighbor ‘gay’, or make a suggestion to have a gay meeting. This gay meeting was usually just a bunch of friends getting together to discuss the everyday wanderings of life, chit-chatting about everything under the sun; enjoying time spent with friends. Now, if you walk outside and call someone gay, they have the legal right, according to some, to serve you with a subpoena. Now, the term that was once another way to express happiness or the joy of life is known as an insult. Or, as is the case with homosexual couples, to announce that a person is partnered with a person of the same gender.

Years ago, neighbors would come together to help one another raise a house. More recent days have shown us that some mothers and fathers aren’t willing to raise even their own children. While it was once fun to go to a drive-in, the most recent drive-ins that have occurred were due to texting while driving.

Not too long ago, if you suggested that someone ‘get educated’, they would have likely run to the local library in order to find information about the subject in question. These days computers are everywhere. So, if you suggest someone get educated today, they’re likely to offer some crude comment in return, then post their comment on a social-networking website for everyone else to see. Nevermind the searching for information; disrespect is such hard work in itself.

Sundays were cursed by the masses since all stores were closed. Church was open to everyone willing to attend. Neighbors knew the names of their neighbors and often shook hands with them on a regular basis. Help was offered and accepted more willingly. Of course, that time was before business meant staying open on Sundays in the interest of earning more money; churches decided it was best that they remain open four to five days a week for a bigger congregation; neighbors began putting bars on their windows and doors; and before help was turned into some sort of innuendo with a hidden agenda.

The times sure have changed since family and respect were the most important things discussed at the dinner table. Now, it’s even too much to ask for a regular conversation using spoken words; everyone with their electronic devices, thumbs ready to type out an illiterate request for the delivered meal to be brought into another room of the house. What’s worse than receiving a text message in a mixture of letters and numbers? — Knowing that so many companies and people encourage such behavior.

Call me old-fashioned, but I’m wise enough to know that the values of life haven’t changed that much over the years. Honesty, respect, and trust are still highly regarded by some. So, the next time you sit down grasping your electronic thing-a-ma-jig, ask yourself if you would want to be known tomorrow as the person you are today.

Rounded Update

Yes, I’ve been quiet for the passed week. I’ve been working on research and writing that I plan to share with all of you just as soon as I get it finished; and no, it’s not of the stories that I have been working on, unfortunately.

Since setting myself goals for the month of August, I’ve decided to take another look at blogging and how I can help to make a change for the better. One of my goals being ‘better quality posts’, I have been doing a bit of research before writing from experience and the little that I had read on the subject that I’ve been writing about.

Writing is still happening behind the scenes; in research, notes, short stories, and ideas. I’ve taken enough notes and done enough research (I hope) to work out a few articles. I will post them as soon as they’re complete.

I’ve also been working on my juggling. I’m still at three tennis balls, but I’m able to juggle four with limited ability. The tricks available to three-ball jugglers are quite something.

Once I figured out the Reverse Cascade, I was able to get the hang of ‘over the top’ throws well enough to work on Tennis (also referred to as ‘Fake Tennis’) and Real Tennis. The over the top throwing also opened up a new view at juggling and brought on the interest of attempting other tricks. The Half Shower is such a trick that requires an over the top throw in order to figure out; and the Shower, too.

The Yo-Yo and the Oy-Oy, along with the Machine, I haven’t really practiced much. I’ve been working on linking the tricks together, juggling two balls in one hand in both directions, and picking combinations that work well with one another. The Machine is still a bit out of my range at the moment, but I will slip back to practice it every now and again.

A technique known as ‘Claws’ – to grab the tennis balls with an over-hand catch – is also something in progress. I’ve managed to learn it more successfully with my right hand, while my left hand wants to play lazy and occasionally drop the ball.

I have accidentally done the Shower and the Windmill a couple of times, but have not yet figured out how to do them on purpose. I’m practicing and working on getting them, though. Juggling really helps when I feel that my writing just isn’t at its best.

When I feel cramped and need some room to explore my thoughts, I’ll take to juggling for a while. I’ll run through a combination of tricks that I know how to do. Then, I’ll attempt a trick that I’m still learning before I go back through a combination of tricks. After that, I’ll sit down for a breather to see what I can get written and what more I need to work on.

I’ve found that having the activity available as a way to vent when I just can’t seem to get the words to flow usually helps quite a bit. Maybe it’s the flow of blood rushing through my body, able to make it to my brain. Perhaps it’s simply the action of itself that gets everything working, again. It could be a mixture of the two or something altogether different. That’s a problem I haven’t begun working on too deeply yet; perhaps another time.

If you’re interested in watching the tricks that I named above to see how they look when performed, visit JugglingJoe1026 on YouTube: 3 Ball Tricks Encyclopedia.

NaNo What–O?

If you cruise the internet in search of ideas for writing and other information, chances are good that you’ve stumbled upon the mention of NaNoWriMo at least once. At first, it may look like just a bunch of letters thrown out there, especially when it’s written in lowercase: nanowrimo. Whichever way it’s written, it still means the same thing: National Novel Writing Month.

So, when is this novel writing month? November.

According to the NaNoWriMo web site, “National Novel Writing Month is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing” in which writers from around the world partake in a thirty day writing event with the ultimate goal of reaching a personal quota of 50,000 words or more.

There were a total of 256,618 participants for 2011. Out of those who registered, 36,843 writers crossed the threshold of the word count set at 50,000. Don’t allow this little bit of news to trouble you, though. You could very well be one of those 36,843 who will cross the finish line this year, or help to increase the number for the 2012 event. Of course, you won’t know unless you sign up and join in the fun!

If you would like to take part, the first thing you need to do is stop by the NaNoWriMo web site to enroll in the program. For more information, be sure to stop by the How NaNoWriMo Works page for a better understanding of how the event flows.

Aspiring young writers are welcome to join in the fun by registering for the NaNoWriMo Young Writers Program. This month-long creative challenge for children and teenagers offers each of them a chance to converse with other young writers, gain insight from established authors, and take on the experience of being a participant of a challenge of their creativity that they will not soon forget.

The Office of Letters and Light brings so much more to the world of writers with other programs that inspire the creativity in writers of all ages. With a variety of writing challenges and getaways that include lots of time for writing and sharing ideas, it should come as no surprise that they offer much more fun stuff.

Pep Talks that inspire creativity, Web Badges to display on your web site or blog, and a Word Count Scoreboard are just a few of the many fun things available. Whether it’s help with NaNoWriMo you are after or you’re searching for new and inspiring ideas, the forums are surely one of the best ways to find like-minded people who want you to succeed just as much as you do.

With all of the writing events and support offered from The Office of Letters and Light and from so many other writers, there’s just no reason not to jump into the fun and start writing!

Web sites for more information:

Goals Set for August

Seeing that many other writers are setting goals for themselves, I’ve decided that I want to participate and set a couple goals for myself as well. Of course, I’ve never really been good with setting goals and keeping to them, but by the end of the month, I want to be able to feel good about what I have accomplished, or sit back and laugh at myself for having not accomplished them.

Seriously though, I will work toward these goals and try my best to achieve them. Since I am still unemployed, they shouldn’t be too much trouble to keep to, though I still have my doubts.

  • Better quality posts; each of which offers some kind of informative edge or insight.
  • Five posts that are not personally inclined, nor personally benefited from, that include images.
  • Four entries about writing, to help along fellow bloggers and fellow writers.
  • Make a short list of achievable goals and share on WordPress.

Okay, so I cheated on the last goal, but at least I have one of them completed. Now, I just have to worry about the other nine posts, at the very least, as well as offering a better quality of post each time that I sit down to write about ideas.

To make it a little tougher, I’ll toss in one that I’ve been considering for the passed couple of months…

  • Submit at least one article or short story for consideration to be published.